USCCB News Release
August 1, 2008
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Catholic Bishops Welcome Passage And Signing Of National Housing Trust Fund
WASHINGTON – Calling the housing needs of low-income Americans a "national priority," the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) commended bi-partisan congressional and Bush administration efforts in creating a national Housing Trust Fund. The fund will assist the lowest income households in the United States by helping to build and preserve affordable rental housing. It was created as a provision in the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, which was signed into law by President Bush on July 30. It is the first new federal housing production program for the nation’s lowest income families in decades.
Bishop William Murphy, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development said, "The Bishops’ conference has worked for years to enact a national Housing Trust Fund because affordable housing is vitally important to the stability and sustainability of families and communities throughout the country. This new institution and resources are welcome signs that that the Administration and Congress can work together across party lines to make the housing needs of low-income families a common national priority."
Bishop Murphy further commented, "Many other bishops and I have supported initiatives of this sort in our own communities. I am pleased to see this national effort succeed and become a possible model for state and local efforts."
The Housing Trust Fund’s most significant features include:
- It creates a permanent program with a dedicated source of funding.
- At least 90% of the funds must be used for the production, preservation, rehabilitation, or operation of rental housing. Up to 10% can be used for the following homeownership activities for first-time homebuyers: production, preservation, and rehabilitation; down payment assistance, closing cost assistance, and assistance for interest rate buy-downs.
- At least 75% of the funds for rental housing must benefit extremely low income (30% of area median income or less) households and all funds must benefit very low income households (50% of area median income or less).
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are required to make annual contributions to the Housing Trust Fund, which will be administered by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). HUD will make grants to states, which will allocate funds to qualified organizations and agencies to build and operate rental housing that is affordable to low-wage earners and to the lowest income elderly and disabled people in our country.The amount in the Housing Trust Fund had it been fully implemented in 2008 is estimated to be about $300 million. This amount is expected to grow over time. The bill also allows Congress to "transfer, appropriate, or credit" other funds to the Housing Trust Fund. The USCCB has actively supported and strongly advocated for the creation of the national Housing Trust Fund for more than a decade.